Derek Cornforth

Civil Engineer
Oregon, Washington, Alaska


Retired from
Professional Practice

2001 - 2013
Staff Consultant
Cornforth Consultants

1983 - 2001
Founder, Principal Engineer Cornforth Consultants

1974 - 1983
Vice President, Shannon & Wilson, Portland, Oregon

1967 - 1974
Managing Director, Nuttall Geotechnical Services Ltd, Near London, England

1961 - 1967
Principal Engineer
Shannon & Wilson,
Seattle Washington

1961, Ph.D.
Civil Engineering (Geotechnical)
Imperial College of Science and Technology, London University, England

1956, M.S.
Civil Engineering (Geotechnical) Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois (Fulbright Scholar)

1955 B.S.
Civil Engineering
Durham University, England

Past Member, Embankment Dams and Slopes Committee, American Society of Civil Engineers

Past President, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Oregon

Past Member, Association of State Dam Safety Officials



Derek H. Cornforth, Ph.D., P.E.
Founder of Cornforth Consultants

Derek received his M.S. degree in geotechnical engineering from Northwestern University in 1955, followed by a Ph.D degree from Imperial College, London University where he studied under geotechnical pioneers Skempton and Bishop.  His early career included running a large soils testing laboratory for two years followed by broad experience on foundation design, earthworks, slope stability, earth dam design, expert witness, landslide studies, and technical reports.  He was an officer in national firms for the major part of these 24 years.

In 1983, he founded Cornforth Consultants, Inc. to provide a more specialized consulting practice in earth dams, landslides, rockslides, geology, and legal services involving geotechnical issues. Some of his more significant projects include several studies at Bull Run Dam, Oregon; design of Eldon Mills Dam Raise, Oregon coast range; Portland General Electric slides at Estacada, Oregon and Frog Lake, Oregon; harbor slide at Skagway, Alaska; Goat Lick highway slide, Glacier Park, Montana; West Side slope stability, Portland Light Rail system; canal slide analyses and remediation for the Eugene Water & Electric Board, and many others.

He has received national and international awards for engineering excellence (British Geotechnical Society Prize, 1964; Geological Society of America Burwell Award, 2008; Schuster Medal, a joint award from the international Association of Engineering Geologists and the Canadian Geotechnical Society, 2012). His 600-page textbook “Landslides in Practice”, published by Wiley, has sold thousands of copies worldwide.  In addition, he has published 30 refereed technical papers and made about 50 technical presentations to technical groups in Oregon and elsewhere.

He has served on national technical committees and is a past president and life member of the American Consulting Engineers Council of Oregon. He retired from full-time practice in 2001, and continued as a part-time consultant until 2013. During his career, he was a Fellow of ASCE and GSA, and a registered Professional Engineer in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.